This week we celebrate Purim. The holiday begins at sundown on Saturday and most congregations and JCCs will have a Purim carnival or other celebration on Sunday, March 20. I’m listing a bunch of them below. If you don’t see one near you, you can either search for “Purim” and the name of your city or you can email me & ask about the city where you live.

Some Adult Purim events are planned for Saturday evening. Take a look at this one from Beth Am in Los Altos Hills, http://www.betham.org/builder/?p=20367

I am looking forward to seeing some of you at the Purim celebrations that I’ll be working on – one for families with young kids and one for adults only (yes, we’ll be drinking!) Both are at the East Bay JCC. (see below)

EVENTS
Israeli Folk Dance for Beginners (Oakland)
Purim Spiel & Carnival (Oakland)
Purim at Tot Shabbat (San Rafael)
Purim Unmasked: An Off-Street Festival (San Francisco)
Purim Carnival! (Berkeley)
Purim For Adults: The Jewish Mardi Gras from Persia (Berkeley)

Israeli Folk Dance for Beginners
This is a beginner’s dance course designed for people who are new to Israeli Folk Dance (IFD) or for people who have little dancing experience. By the end of the course, you will be familiar with the basic steps, and you will have memorized a repertoire of complete dances. IFD is a fun way to learn about the culture, the history, and the people of Israel through dance, and get some good aerobic exercise. You will leave each session feeling energized and accomplished.

Dates: Wednesdays, March 16 – April 13
Time: 7pm to 8pm
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
The cost is $10 per class. For more information, please contact Gabby at gabby@oaklandsinai.org

Purim Spiel & Carnival
Join us for an incredible original spiel – the Megillah According to Abba v’Ima – plus challenging games, thrilling prizes, great food and fun, fun, fun! Get your costumes on come play! Advance discount tickets go on sale starting on March 6.

Date: Saturday March 19 at 7pm & Sunday, March 20 at 9:30am
Carnival is March 20 at 10:30am
Carnival tickets: $25 ticket book for only $20 in the Main Office or the Education Office or at the door.
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland

Purim at Tot Shabbat
Come in costume, nosh a hamantashen, sing a silly song and learn the story of Queen Esther and Haman from Jonathan Bayer! Best for children and grandchildren ages 0 to 5. Meet in our Sanctuary. All are welcome!

Date: Saturday, March 19
Time: 9:30 to 10:15am
Place: Rodef Sholom, 170 North San Pedro Road, San Rafael
Info: (415) 479-3441

Purim Unmasked: An Off-Street Festival
FREE admission to all! Wear a costume and don’t miss the costume parade led by lion dancers. Join our community celebration:
Indoor Street Fair
Face painting and henna art, book store, tea tasting, hamantaschen baking, multicultural food and local jewelry artists.
A Little Bit of the Street
Food carts and inflatables.
Entertainment
Belly dancing, Capoeira, Mary Spalding of Steel Jam, Purim storytelling with Mahatma Moses and Fun Puppets with Dmitry Rashkin and his wife Svetlana Chernitskaya.
Giving Back
Make a tzedakah box.
Family Friendly
Bouncy House, crown and mask making using recycled materials, Mr. Shap’s balloon animals, KinderGym and more. Enjoy kid-friendly food at the JCCSF’s new café.

Date: Sunday, March 20
Time: 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
Place: San Francisco JCC, 3200 California St., San Francisco
Purim Unmasked is a Zero Waste Event!
Presented in partnership with Be’chol Lashon.

Purim Carnival!
Join the JCC East Bay for our community-wide Purim Carnival! We had over 500 people attend last year and it was a blast! Dress up in your favorite costume for the costume parade, play with groggers, make masks to wear all day, and celebrate with carnival games and win prizes.
BRING A FRIEND AND YOU WIN A PRIZE!

Date: Sunday, March 20
Time: 2:00-5:00pm
Place: East Bay JCC, 1414 Walnut St., Berkeley
Admission is an act of tzedakah, please bring canned food to donate!
Cosponsors: Building Jewish Bridges, Congregation Beth El, JCC East Bay, and Jewish Gateways.

Purim For Adults: The Jewish Mardi Gras from Persia
Celebrate a wild and crazy Jewish holiday, with a stimulating evening of adult discussion, drinks, and dessert! No Jewish experience or knowledge is necessary. We will gather at 7pm for a brief and boisterous telling of the Purim story, then choose from among several exciting, interactive learning sessions:

* Magic Behind the Mask: The Transformative Potential of Interfaith Relationships, with Dawn Kepler
* Hidden Holiness: Unmasking the Spiritual Teachings of Purim, with Rabbi Bridget Wynne
* Beyond the Mask, Beyond the Body: A Look at Gender From the Other Side, with Maggid Jhos Singer
* Persian Treats: A Cooking Demonstration, with Niloufar Yadegar

After thought provoking conversations we’ll join together at 8:20 to share sweets and schnapps tasting, plus schmoozing (chatting)!

Date: Thursday, March 24
Time: 7 to 9pm
Place: East Bay JCC, 1414 Walnut St., Berkeley
FREE, you must be 21 or older to participate.
Cosponsors: Building Jewish Bridges, JCC East Bay, JIMENA and Jewish Gateways.

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Skip the carnival and the costumes, and come for an adult evening celebration of Purim! We’ll gather at 7pm for a brief and boisterous telling of the Purim story (The Whole Megillah), then choose from among several exciting, interactive learning sessions:

Persian Food with a Persian Cook
The Spiritual Roots of Purim
Gender Mysteries from Torah
The Magic Behind the Mask: The Transformative Potential of Interfaith Relationships

After some thought provoking conversations we’ll join together at 8:20 to share sweets and schnapps tasting, plus schmoozing (chatting)! You must be 21 or older to participate.

Date: March 24
Time: 7pm
Place: East Bay JCC, 1414 Walnut St., Berkeley

The Interfaith Workshop will be The Magic Behind the Mask: The Transformative Potential of Interfaith Relationships.
Have you noticed how being with someone “different” from you brings out hidden elements of your own identity, your own personality? Together we’ll explore how interfaith relationships can cause tremendous growth in each person towards their true self.

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The Cooks are Happy!

Hamentashen Baking Day has become an annual event with my friend, Laurie. She makes up several batches of dough and filling in advance of the Sunday before Purim. Then she invites friends and family to join her in her kitchen for the assembly line production of hundreds of Hamentashen – the traditional cookie of Purim.

She uses three different cookie dough recipes – just about any sugar cookie or refrigerator cookie dough will do. According to my Joan Nathan cookbook, Jewish Holiday Kitchen (you really need this book), there is an ongoing debate about whether a yeast dough is better than a non-yeast dough. So far I haven’t tried a yeast cookie dough; my kids are fond of the one I use. I’ll give you Laurie’s three recipes here.

Fillings! The most common fillings are poppy seed, prune, and apricot. It all makes sense for a late winter cookie – poppy seeds, prunes and dried apricots would be among the treats available in a community that didn’t have supermarkets. I’ll give you those three recipes also. But let me say, add your own family favorites and let your loved ones experiment. My son loves homemade strawberry jam so we have strawberry jam Hamentashen. At Laurie’s party some of the younger chefs decided to try chocolate versions. Everyone was satisfied.

Laurie’s Hamentash-a-thon Recipes

Flo Braker’s Hamantashen
36 filled cakes

3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1/4 pound margarine
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream the sugar with margarine. Beat eggs with OJ and vanilla, add to butter/sugar. Add dry ingredients and mix. Shape dough into disks and chill. Roll out to ¼ inch thickness, cut into circles, fill with choice of filling and shape into triangles. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 375 degrees for 15 -18 minutes or until lightly browned.

Options: Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with coarse sugar, if desired.
Roll dough in mixture of granulated sugar and flour for a sparkle effect

Brown Sugar and Oat Hamantashen Dough

1 cup butter or margarine, at room temperature
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats

Beat butter, sugar, orange peel, and cinnamon until blended in a large bowl. Beat in egg. Combine dry ingredients in another bowl. Add to butter mixture and beat until thoroughly blended, at least 5 minutes on medium speed with mixer. Chill 1 hour in the refrigerator. Roll out to ¼ inch thickness, cut into circles, fill with choice of filling and shape into triangles. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with coarse sugar, if desired. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 12 – 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Optional icing:

1 ½ cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon each orange-flavored liqueur and water
1 teaspoon grated orange rind

Blend together until smooth. Spread on cooled hamentashen. Let set at room temperature until firm.

Apricot Filling

6 ounces dried California apricots
3 T. granulated sugar
2 t. grated orange rind

Cover the apricots with boiling water in a small pan. Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes. Cool. Drain apricots, reserving the cooking liquid. Chop drained apricots in food processor. Add sugar, 2-3 T. cooking liquid and the grated orange rind. Process until pureed. Cool before using. Refrigerate for up to a week.

Prune Filling

6 ounces dried pitted prunes
2 T. granulated sugar
2 t. grated lemon rind
(1/4 cup chopped walnuts, raisins)

Cover the prunes with boiling water in a small pan. Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes. Cool. Drain prunes, reserving the cooking liquid. Chop drained prunes in food processor. Add sugar, 2-3 T. cooking liquid and the grated lemon rind. Process until pureed. Stir in walnuts and/or raisins if desired. Cool before using. Store in refrigerator for up to a week.

Poppy Seed (Mohn) Filling

1 cup whole poppy seeds
½ cup milk or water
¼ cup honey
1/8 cup sugar
pinch salt
1 egg
(3 T. almond paste)

Use coffee grinder to grind poppy seed in batches. Add to a small pan with milk or water, honey, sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat until thick. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Beat in the egg and almond paste, if desired. Return to heat briefly if too thin. Cool before using. Store covered in refrigerator for up to a week.
Recipes from Laurie Leiber 3.5.06

Laurie and her daughter, Sarah, satisfied with their efforts!

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PURIM!
Be Happy! It’s Adar!

There are so many fun things to do for Purim – make costumes, bake cookies – and other foods, give food gifts to friends, wear crowns and masks. Lots of playing opportunities for kids and adults. The drinking and carousing should be for the grown-ups, and kept within reason.

My Jewish Learning has lots of information on Purim.

Giving gifts of food for Purim
It is traditional for Purim to give gifts of food to friends and neighbors. These food gifts are called Mishloach Manot (sending of portions in Hebrew). Kosher on a Budget has 101 ideas for creative food items.

Making cookies – hamentashen – for the holiday.
Try an apple filling!

A hamentashen recipe by Joan Nathan, one of my favorite cookbook authors.

Another Nathan recipe, but this one on Kveller.

Go to wwwmyjewishlearning.com and search for Purim, you’ll get a variety of articles on customs, rituals, the story, food, etc.

Telling the story of Queen Esther to your kids
PJ Library has a list of books they give for Purim. Take a look here.

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